By Brooke Holt
“See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, ‘Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.’ This phrase, ‘Yet once more,’ indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.” Hebrews 12:25-29
In our devotions for this week, we have read through The Collect where we pray that God’s church would be unified through the Holy Spirit to the honor and glory of the Father. We have read the calling of Jeremiah to be a prophet of the Lord and what that call entailed, and we have read of the miraculous healing of the woman bent over for eighteen years under an oppressive spirit. It has been quite a week!
The week wraps us with this powerful reading from Hebrews 12, in which once again God’s people are warned they must listen to him, heed his words, and obediently apply them. Just as God’s judgment came upon the nation of Israel in Jeremiah’s day through the Babylonian exile, so God’s judgment will come again in the return of Jesus Christ. As the apostle Paul wrote, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God” (Romans 14:11). The writer of Hebrews and Paul warn their readers that today is the day to get right with God. Today is the day to bow your knee and to have your tongue confess he is Lord. This is putting your faith in the kingdom that cannot be shaken.
What does that mean? It means this world is temporary, as are the things of this world. God’s kingdom is eternal. If this is true (and the Bible says it is), you should consider where you have placed your trust and hope. Are they set on this world or the person and work of Jesus Christ? You are commanded to have a healthy fear of God here. It is not a fear of—is he disappointed in me, will he leave, but a fear of his judgment. In Christ, you are perfectly secure. Without Christ, you are in grave danger of judgment and condemnation. God longs for you to choose him, his kingdom, and obedience to that kingdom.
The writer teaches you how to embrace his kingdom: “Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire” (verse 29). Consider this image of fire. A consuming fire is not gentle or calm. It overwhelms, ravages, and ultimately purifies. That is much like God’s work in us through the Holy Spirit. He is not to be confined to one area of your life but is to have access to all of you. He searches you, knows you, and reveals areas in your life he would like to transform and heal. This is not the work of an angry or hard God but a God who loves you and wants the very best for you. He knows holiness leads to wholeness and ultimately to the abundant life.
May he have his way in you, in his church, and in the world today so that others can see this glory and receive the kingdom that cannot be shaken.
Spend time asking the Holy Spirit to work in you today, to bring about his transformation and healing, then to lead you into the abundant life God has for you. We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Let's face it, the Christian life is hard. Relationships take work. Christians forget. Sometimes it is tempting to go back to the days when God was not the center of our lives - to backslide. We are all faced with tremendous pressures to drift away from intimacy with Jesus and the community of the Church. However, the Lord invites us to pay attention, to move forward, to draw near, and to live lives of worship. Draw Near: Hebrews on Christian Worship is a small group Bible study on the Book of Hebrews intended to lead participants into a deeper intimacy with the living God in the context of New Testament worship. Draw nearer to God in authentic worship today!
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